Young Woman Fired From Serving Job For Wearing Natural Hair In A Bun

March 13, 2016  |  

The hate against natural hair is real y’all — not that we didn’t already know this.

Yet another Black woman has been fired from her job for rocking her texture in all of its kinky and curly glory. According to CBC News, 20-year-old Akua Agyemfra was fired from her job as a server at Toronto-based Jack Astor Bar & Grill due to wearing her natural hair in a bun.

An assistant manager explained that her termination, which occurred on Agyemfra’s third day of training, was based on her lack of wearing her hair “down” or straight. The young woman, who takes “pride in her natural hair,” said she was embarrassed by the situation, being made to take her hair out in front of other co-workers, showing that her couldn’t lay “down” without being processed or straightened.

Akua went on to say that she has no plans to return to the restaurant and shared this Facebook message:

“I know most black women at restaurants are forced to wear wigs or weaves or extensions, or are forced to straighten their hair everyday. Don’t get me wrong, I think extensions look great. I’ve been wearing them ever since I was a little girl. I love when I get my braids. It’s the protective style I choose and works for me. But why am I scrutinized when I decide to to take them out? That’s not fair.”

“I’m not going to compromise my roots and edges because my employer wants me to. My scalp has a right to breathe just as much as the woman standing beside me.”

As a young Black woman that has worn her hair both relaxed and natural, seeing these stories continue pop up left and right about natural hair is ridiculous. When does it stop? Of course, I understand that certain jobs call for certain hairstyles, but as a server in the food industry, I would definitely expect for her to have to wear her hair pulled back. I mean, what’s wrong with a bun? When your hair is down, the chances of hair falling into food is increased. So, wouldn’t a stationary style like a bun or ponytail be a better option? Or am I wrong?

Nevertheless, regardless if her hair was neatly pulled back in a bun or “down,” something as simple as a hairstyle that didn’t interfere with her job seriously should have not counted as determining factor in her termination. At the end of the day, hair is just hair and shouldn’t be a constant problem in the workplace, especially for women of color who chose to wear their natural hair.

As always, we’re interested in your thoughts on this incident. Have you or someone you know been fired from a job because of your hair?

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  • Myllee

    What Canada , the country with no racism lol

  • Oh please

    Ummmmm. wear your hair “down” or even “out” in a restaurant setting is just unhygienic and against US food and safety laws? Where is this restaurant again? I have been a server before, and it was the rule/law I thought that hair collar length and longer had to be in a bun,ponytail, etc. but COULD NOT be worn down/out. I mean hello, hair in food much?!

  • D Laurier Beaulieu

    WTF?
    Not cool.
    Not acceptable.
    And I’m not spending my money at Jack Astor’s. They can kiss my brown

  • Nae Nae

    They want straight hair only??? That’s nonsense! That’s discrimination right there because they are basically asking for white, asian, and hispanic females. And what if I’m black wear a wig??? Next thing you know a black person should have a restaurant with only kinky/curly head workers. How would they like it?

  • Emily

    Before I started watching, I knew it was a woman who made the decision.

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  • Lina A

    _>

  • hollyw

    This is def a great example of intersectionality; racist and s3xist.

    It’s bad enough that serving jobs pay sh!t and folks who take them really need the money or trying to make some extra money on the side, all for shxtty treatment, but establishments still get by on making female servers do the most to have their place looking “s3xy”. Errm, hair down?? I appreciate you trying to boost my tips, sir, but wtf does that have to do with quality service? For the life of me, idk how this standard treatment has been so persistent in the biz, considering the advances in literally EVERY other job arena.

  • Neo DubZero

    I like her name, even though I’m not sure how to say it.

    I know, I know….irrelevant.

  • white people love to say the Black women wearing straight hair is appropriation like ww wearing Black hairstyles, yeah right ww arent being fired for not wearing cornrows!

    • Da Black Capitalist

      “white people love to say the Black women wearing straight hair is appropriation”

      No, they don’t, stop lying.

      • I’ve read it and I know many on here have as well. no need for me to lie.

        • Da Black Capitalist

          Crying about dumb stuff like cultural appropriation is something only a select group of minorities do. There’s no need to lie, have some integrity.

          • We all know that white folks are so thirsty to be oppressed. Every time someone calls white people out on appropriation a “select” group of white folks always come back with but but what about Black women wearing straight hair? that’s appropriation! Believe it or don’t but you will not tell me what I’ve experienced yt .

            • Da Black Capitalist

              Bro, you’re not just a liar, you’re delusional lol.

              • You’re projecting ma’am.

                • Da Black Capitalist

                  I’m not a woman.

                  • You’re certainly not a man! Only a failed man trolls websites focused towards Black WOMEN.Only a failed man calls a woman bro. You are nothing but a troll who inserts himself in issues he has nothing to do with. Go take several seats.

                    • Da Black Capitalist

                      I’m not trolling, but okay.

                    • yea you are, only a troll would come on a website not focused on them and tell people who it IS focused on that their lived experiences are wrong or worse that they are lying. You are full of sht and this conversation is over.

                    • Da Black Capitalist

                      Still talking?

            • Lina A

              I’m white (I know, I know: announcing. But it’s relevant, for perspective)(occasionally I find myself reading Madame Noire via links from feminist/SJ pages/friends. I’ll try not to step on any toes), and I entirely agree with you, Staci Elle. From all of my involvement in feminism, trying to be intersectional and understand complex factors in oppression, there is just a wall of BS pushback from white people who are “anti-political correctness” (like that’s something to be proud of), and amongst their go-to comebacks (like cries of “reverse racism!” when they’re excluded from positive-discrimination, aka affirmative action, initiatives to promote equal opportunity, or various other ridiculous “reverse racism!” scenarios, or their denial of white privilege because they and some other white people grew up poor, not understanding that it wasn’t BECAUSE of their whiteness that they were so), some DO love to bring up that people of colour, black women in particular, don western and Eurocentric hair and fashion, as a “comeback” to the cultural appropriation argument.

              Most white people just don’t GET cultural appropriation. We grow up learning that we’re entitled to pretty much anything. Our ancestors just took what they wanted, and now we do the same. We’re taught we can be whatever we want to be and do what we want to do. The sky’s the limit. We also, just like anyone in a position of privilege (such as cis men > cis women > everyone else, as far as sex and gender are concerned), do NOT grasp power dynamics. We don’t get that western dress and hairstyles and other Eurocentric beauty standards have been foisted on people of colour since at least colonial times, and it’s become a necessity for people of colour to conform, to be more accepted by white people in power (yet still not fully accepted, despite all of that effort). Which is way different than some white person playing dress-up for fun, because they think a warbonnet is soooo cool, or that it would be soooo cute to try out that afro tutorial from Allure, a style which they can easily wash out so that they can return to their society-approved European hair texture, or some dippy flower child discovering eastern religion and culture and all of the clothing and physical accessories which go with it, and, because it’s “exotic” and “mystical”, they have a spiritual awakening based on their fetishization of an eastern culture… all while the people who originated these things can’t proudly display them without facing social disapproval/mockery.

              White people, much like bratty 16 year olds on their birthdays whose parents have obscene amounts of money, need to learn that they have taken or been given plenty enough, already; they can stand to take a step back and see that some things should be off-limits to them, out of respect for others. They can live very full, still totally privileged lives, without wearing an afro or a warbonnet or a sari, etc.

              • Emily

                Honesty. A must read.

              • Now tell that white dude all of this, white people like other white people to tell them about racism, appropriation etc. I’m already fully aware because I live it, daily.

                While you’re at it tell him that calling Black women men is a very old hat from racists such as himself, Serena Venus and so many others have been called men by white racists.. nothing new to see here.

      • Emily

        They do it often, actually.

        Again, we’re on an American website. Are you referencing your understanding of the black woman experience in the U.S.?

        • Da Black Capitalist

          Lol, the lies.

          • Emily

            Lol, the lies…you insist on pushing by telling people their real life experiences never happened. How psychotic.

            Again, are you referencing your understanding of the black woman experience in the U.S., or nah…

            • Da Black Capitalist

              You’re still talking?

              • Emily

                … and yet… here you are again. *peeps a whole bunch of posts from Izoto on the page vs…

  • Paradise_Breeze

    I don’t know anyone personally that has been fired due to their hair. “Forced” to wear wigs, weaves and extensions? I don’t understand this.

    If you come in looking like Bozo the clown (rainbow hair) or like you’ve just had your hand in a socket, then that’s a problem. A simple bun shouldn’t be a problem. I hope she consults an attorney.

    • Emily

      The ONLY job I ever lost, was due to my hairstyle despite the fact that I was a fave, first one in last one out, stellar reviews, etc….

      The company was owned by a well-known white ethnic dynasty here in the U.S…. WELL KNOWN to every woman on this site, but they allowed their younger generations to run amok randomly striking fear into the employees. “You’re fired. Pack their desk and call security.” I wasn’t the type to tremble and just thought it a sad way for people to live.

      I wore my hair, one day, in a natural style… and, was told that evening, upon my return home, to not return. My supervisor must have known before I left work because seemed apologetic to me before I even left. Way too sweet, but I knew she was also scared to death of them.

      I was young and new to the workforce so suing them was too abstract for me.

      Still, there were other instances where I was simply targeted, but not fired, on days when my hair was natural (a coifed-afro) soon after my big chop, but those who targeted me were peers, not superiors. I don’t miss those days.

      It’s hard to prove because they lie, but she should definitely exercise her agency.

  • MocaPretty

    I hope that establishment suffers this is blatant disrespect an discrimination. I would surely take them to court and let my hair down (figuratively speaking) and make them pay for wrongful termination.

  • Ram2015

    Smh. The same people that fired her will be the same ones complaining about Black people being unemployed and/or on government assistance. This has to stop, just like the discrimination of Black children wearing their natural hair to school.

  • Taneesha Culture Clash Thomas

    so we’re suing right?…

  • Val

    Whenever I wear my natural 2 work there us definitely a difference in how u r perceived but when I wear weave or a wig it is accepted smh shame Society is like tgus b cuz of natural hair verses weave

    • Emily

      1000% true. They look at you like you’re a black panther or something even after they’d been working with you collegially for years. I didn’t have the energy to get into this on another post where some comments claimed black women wore weaves to LOOK LIKE ASIAN/WHITE women. I just didn’t have the energy to explain the levels to which they were wrong. No energy.

  • mochazina

    ew. i’d much rather my server not have hair freely flowing – less chances of hair getting into my food. o_O

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  • Genny

    Entrepreneur is the way to go. . Stop working for these mofos. Stop sending your kids to a brainwashing place called school. They don’t care if you’re a hard worker. Black folks love to say how hard they work. Stop it, if it’s not your business stop it. They still fire you like you gave 50% & you worked 100% .

    • Titi

      Amen!!! I would rather have my own business and work for myself b/c these lil jobs you are constantly being told what you have to take and its best to be self employed and/or an entrepreneur

    • Emily

      PLEASE SEND YOUR CHILDREN TO SCHOOL. PLEASE TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO KNOW EVERYTHING THE DOMINANT CULTURE KNOWS AND THEN MORE. DO NOT BELIEVE THAT NOT HAVING AN EDUCATION IS GOOD, EVER. WHETHER IT BE COLLEGE OR A SKILL, PLEASE TEACH THEM TO BE THE BEST AT IT BUT ALSO KNOW THEIR HISTORY, THE MECHANICS OF OUR SOCIETY, AND OUR HUMANITY.

      NEVER TEACH THEM THAT “NOT KNOWING” IS ENOUGH, PLS. PLEASE TEACH THEM TO BE A KNOWLEDGEABLE ENTREPRENEUR AND UNDERSTAND THAT THE CONNECTIONS THEY MAKE, PEDAGOGICALLY AND INTERPERSONALLY, THROUGHOUT THE EDUCATIONAL PROCESS ALLOW FOR GREATER ENTREPRENEURIAL SUCCESS.

      KNOW THAT WITH SCHOOL, YOU DON’T KNOW, WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW AND WILL NOT HAVE THE CONFIDENCE REQUIRED FOR SUSTAINABLE SUCCESS THROUGH 90% OF ENTREPRENEURIAL PATHS.

      SEND – YOUR – KIDS – TO – SCHOOL – SUCCESSFULLY NOT JUST AS A PLACE FOR THEM TO BE WHILE YOU’RE AT WORK. TEACH THEM READ AT HOME NOT JUST WHEN IT’S SCHOOLWORK!

      EDUCATION/KNOWLEDGE OF SELF IS EVERYTHING!!!

      PLEASE DO NOT ADVOCATE FOR LESS EDUCATION – ADVOCATE FOR BETTER EDUCATION IF YOU WANT OUR KIDS TO HAVE BETTER LIVES – ADVOCATE FOR THEIR SELF-CONFIDENCE AND TO NOT FEAR WHITENESS BUT TO UNDERSTAND IT AND THEIR PLACE IN THIS WORLD – ADVOCATE FOR THEIR COMPETENCIES. Please…please…please…

      I have my hair/work/drone horror stories, but I have since become the CEO of multiple companies and have been so for a decade now and am not yet middle-aged. I COULD NOT NAVIGATE AMERICAN BUSINESS IF NOT FOR MY EDUCATION (INSIDE THE HOME AND IN SCHOOL) AS WELL. My competencies were grown and fostered through my intern/young buppie life and through attending schools where you learn to interact with people from all over the world, including those at home who believe they know you better than yourself.

      EDUCATION is real and too important to dismiss.

      • Lisa

        Homeschool is an option more Blacks are looking into because of the low expectations and racism in the education system. Education is a must but it doesn’t have to come from the massa.

      • Genny

        It depends on what education you speak of… knowledge is what they need. Right now schools are teaching run down education. That really doesn’t apply to real life and its all a lie.

  • Faith

    This is the most crazy, outrageous thing. What is wrong with her hair? She is wearing it in a bun so she can probably do her work and not let her hair get in the way. Crazy.

  • Raze

    What’s wrong with a bun? A bun is the epitome of “professional hair.” Anyone who would fire a person for putting their hair in a bun has serious issues. I hope that this young lady will find another job soon that can accept her hair the way it is.

  • Maybe this is the downside of our need for “versatility”. People in the mainstream are so accustomed to seeing black women with weaves, wigs and extensions that for most people, that is the norm. Think about it, if you are so committed to changing your hairstyle constantly, what’s the issue with wearing a flat wig or wig hat during work hours. The only solution is present natural hair (without weave and extensions) as a fixed variable, like the color of your skin, the width of nose and the fullest of your lips. Be versatile (if you must) in your clothes and accessories.

    • TightlaccedFem

      you trying real hard to validate bs

      • Nope. The bs is using wigs and weave as a crutch. Instead of admitting that it’s a concession to mainstream beauty standards, sisters insist they are relying on wig hats for versatility.

  • speaksthetruth

    Blessings comes in different ways. Sue their asses.

  • Chanda

    I can see if it was a disheveled mess or dirty but a bun is usually the go to for a nice, neat style. Dang, maybe she doesn’t want to deal with a Housewives weave.

  • Live_in_LDN

    The restaurant is all types of wrong. Having your hair tied up is far more hygenic anyway. I wouldn’t want to be served food with someone’s hair all in it, relaxed or otherwise.

  • Lisa

    There must be more to this story. That’s my thought on this.

    • Chanda

      I hope so.

    • Mrs.J

      Yea it seems weird that the restaurant would want their servers to wear their hair straight down and flat.Maybe that manager just wanted her out.

  • morenYAHdelsur

    As long as you look nice Idk why hair even matters!

  • Excepcion

    I mean I get it. But the problem with these establishments is that they make it very clear whether directly or implied through who they hire or dont..there is a specific look they require from the folks that work there. By you walking in there and asking for a job, you are implying that you concede or agree with the dress code. These employers are smart. They know what to push and what they can get away with.

    • secret87

      Exactly. When she applied she may have had her hair loose aka not in a bun or had fake hair in during the interview.

      • Excepcion

        Lol right but hey! We all know the gig. Look your Sundays best for the interview and during probabtion and then let it go when you’re settled. I worked for an establishment similar to this one and as soon as I passed probabtion and I knew that my employer didnt have me on radar I shaved my head and got a fade lol. I beat my face and made sure I looked good but no one said a thing !

        • Secret87

          Bingo! Lol

    • Terietta M. Ingram

      if these dress codes are created to be discriminatory its a damn problem.

    • hollyw

      I don’t necessarily disagree, but a lot of times with these vague discriminatory policies, there is no legal precedent, but if someone like woman above challenges it, less people will try to “get away with” it.

  • Van

    Have fun not having a job.

    • secret87

      LOL. I would of wore a wig to work and natural off the clock.

      • Mrs.J

        I am pretty sure that wasn’t the case.I am pretty sure she wore her hair in a nice neat bun like she has there.They just want her to wear her hair like white people nice and straight.I would prefer the person serving me to have a nice bun over straight flat hair that can get into my food.

      • Mrs.J

        Nobody wants wig hair in their food.

    • Mrs.J

      You sound dumb.

    • hollyw

      I doubt her serving prospects have magically dried up.

  • meechie

    Girl sue. That always seems to stop the nonsense.

    • Van

      Not sure there’s enough her to sue.

      • meechie

        Race is a protected class under the Civil Rights Act. Her hair texture is tied into her race/ethnicity as she pointed out-naturally kinky hair largely associated with Af. Americans will not lay straight or hang down without chemical or someother type of manipulation.

        If it were the reverse, a White Woman being expected to wear her hair in an afro texture to remain employed is discrimination as most Anglos have straight hair.

        I hope she sues. That seems to be the most effective process for changing discriminatory practices. Hitting people in the pocket.

        • DLB

          Click on the CBC link, this was in Canada. Not too sure what their civil rights policies (if this is what they call them) are, but there were plenty of comments that preferred how this sister was wearing her hair (clean, hygienic, etc.), as opposed to having blonde strands in their food.

          • meechie

            Thanks for the info. Looks as though she and her mother are seeking legal remedies. Good for them.

        • hollyw

          So is s3x/gender.

          I’m so tired of women who need money having to do degrading shxt for immature, sleazy business owners that, most the time, don’t even have anything to do with the “theme” of the place.

    • Mrs.J

      She should try too.It’s just another way of them trying to enforce their European standard of beauty on us.I am pretty sure her hair was in a nice neat bun.I had the same problem at my job for wearing a headband and they said if a manager doesn’t like what you are wearing they can make you take it off.For that reason I don’t knownif she can sue because many jobs have so many clauses.

      • meechie

        Hopefully she will. You can’t discriminate soley on appearances (in most instances)…especially if the issues an employer has with your appearance is associated with race or religion (i.e. kinky hair, a burka/head scarf, etc).

        Your head band wasnt part of a protected status.

        • Mrs.J

          Yea that’s true but my head band situation was so petty.This same supervisor also said my nails were too ghetto so I stopped getting them done and then she came in with the same nail design in two weeks.Petty on petty.I hope she can do something because this sounds like discrimination and a little ridiculous.

          • meechie

            I would hope that this supervisor understands labels like ‘ghetto’ may end up costing her. I’m assuming that you’re not blonde haired blue eyed..would she have used that same term?

            I’m not a litigious person but I’ve learned over the years that even ignorant people respond when you threaten their livelihood.

            • Mrs.J

              She and all the managers say very ignorant things .They are all Filipino.The company just lets them do whatever.That’s why I am out of there by next year.They all hate me because I just ignore them and they are all so nosey and have unemployed husbands lol.

      • hollyw

        That’s true, but it’s also good to know that those clauses can be constitutional and would not be upheld in court if a person sues. Many restaurant owners know this but like to try their luck anyway, or discourage dissent. Most the stuff managers get away with telling esp. female employees out of line and they know it.